Top 10 stories in the arts

The year 2010 started out in a tough economy for everyone, but especially artists, and ended with a devastating flood that destroyed many artists' work and businesses. But it also saw a spirit of optimism and innovation as galleries that were swept out in the economic tide were replaced with new artists and gallerists who saw opportunity where others had foundered.

Here are the Coastline Pilot's choice of top 10 stories for 2010.

1.Flooding damage: Artists and gallerists were among the many Lagunans who lost property when Laguna Creek flooded after a seven-day spate of rain culminated in a Dec. 22 deluge that overflowed the creek and inundated Laguna Canyon Road and downtown Laguna Beach. Among the artists who reportedly sustained great losses was the city's Artist of the Year 2010, Marsh Scott. Galleries on Forest Avenue and in downtown Laguna were swamped with mud and debris but after a thorough cleanup, most were back in operation in time to make some holiday sales. In response to the disaster, the Festival of Arts announced a grant program for affected artists, and the Sawdust Festival invited artists who sustained losses that hamper their ability to make a living through their art to apply for funds.

2.Openings and closings: For artists, it was a year of trying to beat the odds, with a number of prominent galleries, including Rohrer Fine Art and Sherman Gallery, closing up shop, while the vacated spots were filled with an eclectic assortment of artists and galleries. When Schaar Galleries in North Laguna closed its doors, opting to maintain a studio only, landlord and art promoter Bob Kronquist called on out-of-work artists to help open a new gallery, 404 North Gallery, in the former Schaar space. The gallery opened in February. Other new entries to art scene included: Art Cube and Green Cube on Forest Avenue; Edenhurst Gallery, Essence Gallery, Annette Wimmer and 210 Ar4t (Artists Republic for Tomorrow) on North Coast Highway; Swenson Fine Art and Clark Little photography on South Coast Highway. Later in the year, the Festival of Arts opened its first year-round gallery, foaSouth, on South Coast Highway, sharing the space with a yogurt shop. Kush Fine Art moved from South Coast Highway to Forest Avenue—and into the path of the Dec. 22nd flood.

3. Refusnik: In a possible first, an artist withdrew a commissioned work after it was criticized in a public forum. The sculpture by Andrew Myers, which won a $20,000 commission from the city's Arts Commission for placement at Brooks Street beach, was withdrawn in May after criticism of the location and color choice so offended Myers that he decided to walk away from it rather than make the changes as approved by the City Council. The 4-feet-7 sculpture — a surfer standing alongside a bright orange longboard — was sold to a private party.

4. Mourned: Longtime Lagunan and noted cartoonist Frank Interlandi died Feb. 4 at 85; and Iris Adam, who owned the land on which the Art-A-Fair is situated, and was an artist in her own right, died Jan. 30 at 91.

5. Lauded: Marsh Scott was named Artist of the Year and Ralph Tarzian, Pat Kollenda, and Mark Porterfield all received Art Star award statues for their contributions to the arts, at the fourth annual event, held March 31.

6.Innovation: Sawdust Studio Classes were launched in October in conjunction with the Laguna Beach Visitors and Conference Bureau. The two-hour classes, taught by local artists and artisans, allow participants to create a real work of art or jewelry to take home.

7. Honored: MacGillivray Freeman Films was honored in August by Daily Variety, after the Imax documentary maker announced it had crossed the $1 billion mark in terms of box office ticket sales. The entertainment daily devoted a special section on Aug. 26 entirely to the firm.

8. Public art upheld: Despite recommendations from the Planning Commission, the City Council on Nov. 16 declined to allow exemptions for historic structures from the city requirement that developers provide art in public places.

9. Big year: Laguna Playhouse kicked off its 90th anniversary year with a September gathering at the Pepper Tree parking lot where the original playhouse was built exactly 90 years before.

10. New art scene: Laguna Art Museum made waves in the art world with its "Art Shack" exhibit, bringing together funky art and vernacular architecture, followed by OsCene, an art compendium that, among other noted works, featured impact art made by women on rollerskates slamming into a clay wall.

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